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Friday, December 21, 2012

Wed 19th Dec 2012 - Shide Quarry, Newport.

Tony's Photographs.

Carrie's Photograph.

This was our last session of Green Gym for 2012, and unfortunately the weather was not terribly kind to us.  Our venue was Shide Quarry, which is always our last visit of the year.  Our main task was to cut back the cotoneaster, some of which is extremely close to the ground.  This will prevent it crowding out the wildflowers on the floor of the quarry, which in turn provide nectar rich food for the Chalkhill Blue butterfly found here. About 30 hardy souls dressed top to toe in wet gear were soon beavering away, and Nick the ranger also managed to start a fire to burn off the cut pieces.  We also managed to have a lovely cook-up of a delicious vegetable stew, which was very welcome at tea break, along with all the other festive goodies everyone had kindly brought along.

Carrie's Nature Lesson.

As its name suggests, the Chalkhill Blue is found on chalk downland, although limestone downland is also used.  The adult butterfly is most often seen in bright sunshine (if any of us can remember what this looks like!!), where the ground may appear to shimmer with the activity of hundreds, if not thousands, of males searching for a mate just a few inches above the ground. It lives in discrete colonies where its foodplant, Horseshoe Vetch, is found in abundance.  It is also a warmth-loving butterfly, and is typically found on sheltered, south-facing hillsides.  At good sites, these lovely butterflies can be found roosting communally on grass stems at the lower slopes of a hillside, occasionally with several individuals on the same stem.

Many thanks to Carrie for the photographs, editorial and nature lesson this week and to Tony for his photographs.

All that is left is for me, Bob the Blog to wish you all a VERY........

and we look forward to seeing you all at Green Gym in 2013...!

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